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Not that such niceties, or even Greene’s eminence, concerned most bidders. Naturally the provenance attracted interest from local private buyers but it was the trade who secured the lion’s share of top entries.

For them, the heart of the matter was Mrs Greene’s elegant taste and the fresh-to-market status of her pieces. Both were sufficiently attractive to result in the 172-lot consignment providing most of the sale’s highlights and all bar three getting away.

The star of the Greene consignment and the sale itself was an 18th century Italian serpentine console table with a polychrome mosaic marble top resting on a rococo dolphin base.

The 4ft 5in (1.35m) wide table top depicting Sienna’s famous horse race, Il Palio, had some minor restoration but not enough to handicap the bidding.

Bought in 1948 for £17, this highly decorative piece was reckoned to be of Grosvenor House-quality and was the target of four serious telephone bidders before one of them, a London dealer, edged over the winning line with a bid of £27,000.

The trade also took a Regency specimen marble circular occasional table from the estate.

Measuring 2ft 10in (86cm) diameter and in good condition, it had a gilt carved tripod base with heavy claw feet, and sold at £8600.

Mrs Greene obviously had a fascination for Italian antiques and marble.

Another piece from her estate was an early 19th century Siena marble model of the Temple of Vespasian with Ionic columns on an ebonised plinth. Standing 2ft 11/2in high (65cm), and also in excellent condition, this sold at £5600.

Buyers looking for the real architectural thing were not disappointed, as one of the most unusual and imposing entries from the estate was a set of seven 17th century Verona Rosso marble columns about 10ft 5in tall by 2ft 10in diameter (3.18m x 86cm).

They were entered together with two pink marble capitals, three square bases and a part column.

The pillars, which were sold in situ, had originally formed the temple in the gardens of Howberry Park near Wallingford which was demolished in 1950 and purchased by the vendor that year. They captured the imagination of more than one buyer and doubled expectations selling to a private buyer at £15,000.

Other notable Italian antiques included a flamboyant 19th century Venetian wall mirror with gilt metal urn finials and a stylised foliate surround. This eye-catching, 4ft 5in x 2ft 4in (1.35m x 71cm) mirror was of obvious quality and in good condition and was contested on eight telephones before selling to an overseas dealer at £7600.

Mention here should also be made of home-grown successes at Mallams’ sale back on October 29.
Among the stars of the 778-lot event which totalled £235,000 were two privately entered traditional English mahogany entries. Foremost were two George III bookcases, a Chippendale secretaire breakfront example and another after Hepplewhite in satinwood and mahogany.

The first, 7ft 1in (2.16m) wide 7ft 1in (2.16m) wide, fetched £9000 from the trade. The second, 6ft 91/2in x 3ft1/2in (2.07m x 93cm), with good proportions, colour and condition, was another trade buy at £8000.

Mallams, Oxford, November 26
Number of lots offered: 383
Lots sold: 85 per cent
Sale total: £220,000
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent